The CCTV footage that can be found of the Sgt. Mark Andrews case is clearly only part of what should be available to any enquiry. The first two links above show what may be two assaults on Pamela Somerville, who is 59 and weighs about 8 stones. These possible assaults are about an hour apart as far as I can gather from the ‘clocks’. Other links show Somerville talking and the Wiltshire ACC who initially said conduct like this was dire. The last link is to the Grauniad and contains the ACC using ‘PR damage limitation’ speak, and learning lessons crud.
In investigating this, we would first want all relevant CCTV footage. We would then want forensic expertise applied to this. Without this one can only conjecture. Scientific know-how could demonstrate what happened by replication and measurement.
There are other steps we would have wanted taken as investigators. First to call us immediately to get us to the live scene. Second to separate Sgt. Andrews and other officers as we were on the way to the scene, bringing in other officers to cover, if necessary. We would then have wanted to interview the officers on tape, without them having chance to collude. This is just what we would do with assault suspects in what looks like a serious case such as this. We doubt this happened, and the reasons it did not need investigation. This should have been done by a duty inspector, and we need to know whether one was told and what he or she did.
I suspect lawyers got to see the CCTV footage, identified gaps and concocted a story to fit the gaps. On what we can see of what we have, the first ‘assault’ seems to be the one where Pamela is ‘thrown or punched or fell’ from the cell doorway and lands near the edge of the bed. What could forensics tell us of this, including what a reconstruction might tell us? Our guess, as trained investigators, is that this incident does not look likely to have caused the damage to her left eye and above – have a look – it appears to be her right side and head that make make contact with the bed (concrete?) – we don’t feel either that she ‘fell off the door frame’. Did anyone judging Andrews ask for forensic help? If not, why? Judges could do this. She is also not bleeding as a result of this incident – this comes an hour or so later.
The second ‘assault’ comes an hour later. On the footage we have, Andrews appears to go running to the cells. We can’t be sure, but it looks as though he leaves a ‘punter’ on his own at the custody desk. This isn’t in ‘real time’ until we she Andrews apparently hurl Pamela to the concrete ground of the cell. The floor appears to have no blood on it before the ‘assault’. The video from the second link shows him violently throw her to the ground and it is clear in this incident she is not holding the doorway. This seems to be where she is really hurt and bleeding badly. On this evidence, we would base any ‘assault’ investigation on this incident.
We think we have seen Pamela slapped (before she falls to the ground near the custody desk and Andrews starts dragging her along the ground), subject to a ‘punch, violent push or violent fall’ from the cell doorway, then later thrown to the ground, suffering serious cuts. People with plenty of alcohol in them do tend to bleed a lot. What we have not seen is Pamela being violent or abusive. Is there any footage of this, or footage showing she never was? There should be. It seems strange that she was charged (presumably with being in charge of a car and refusing a breath test and presumably the later station test – what happened?) but not prosecuted, as a successful prosecution would have aided any Andrew’s defence.
The standard PACE rules contain words something with meaning like ‘you can say nothing now, but this may seriously affect belief in evidence you later give’. Andrews, as a police officer, knows this – did he make any attempt to get a statement taken from himself and other relevant officers at the time? Did he inform his duty officer and let him or her take care of this essential investigation step, which, if he was innocent, would have been much more convincing than material ‘made up’ later? We know one officer came forward to senior officers later, but did she feel she could not get the enquiry started through the duty officer at the time, and did she try?
In the absence of procedures that civilian suspects would have faced (we presume), when did the enquiry commence? Clearly, Andrews was not believed by the senior Wiltshire establishment or CPS, as he was suspended and prosecuted successfully, at least in the first court in front of a district judge, I think not in the usual Magistrates’ Court. Forensic examination of the CCTV could still take place – has it taken place, and if so why not? What of forensic examination of Pamela’s wounds or on Andrews at the time? I would have had this done had Andrews been one of my lads, unless he coughed to me and we could get away with an abject apology to Pamela, and some retraining and dire warning on future conduct for him. If he persisted in lying to me or actually was innocent, I would have wanted the best evidence. I’m not a CSI idiot, but a lot might have been gleaned from the nature of her wound. He was in contact with her more than I am with my partner on a regular day, so I doubt much could have been done with Andrews. Forensic examination and opinion on the CCTV would have identified any gaps where his defence could be over-turned or substantiated. This is why the timeliness of Andrews and ‘corroborating’ officers is so important. Evidence given before they had chance to see CCTV would be much more credible than anything ‘made up’ afterwards and after collusion.
Both judges in this case need to be interviewed as to why they came to such staggeringly different conclusions on the same evidence. We know about ‘clever’ legal argument, but on the face of limited disclosure, Judge Roy Bean seems to make a buffoon out of the District Judge – if the latter does not know what assault is or reasonable force, he should be sacked as incompetent. We suspect he is not.
The evidence and argument should be out in front of the public and should have been for a very long time. Pamela was held to be too drunk to be a credible witness. Would this have been the case if she had been raped? Drunkenness prevents ‘consent’, but how could a drunk-at-the-time ever credibly present evidence she was drunk? I saw some cops dealing with a drunken woman last night in town – they were brilliant – and the woman was much more drunk than Pamela appears in disclosed footage. I would not want to put the evidence of someone drunk-at-the-time into court, and no decent investigator would want to. My sense on limited disclosure is that I could have made or broken this case without reference to Pamela other than her wounds, unless I was breaking the case of CCTV footage of her pissed, violent and so on, which are not in the links above.
This case is a disaster whether Judge Roy bean has it right, or every person I know who sees the “evidence” from the links above thinks. If it is the latter we are in deeper trouble, and Wiltshire needs to add to its enquiry whether the culture the first judge ruled there is being made worse through some of the viler projections on police blogs. The thing I can understand least of all is why Andrews didn’t leave Pamela to police women present. It would be interesting to see more of the CCTV to gauge his psychological disposition on the night. What we have seen is disturbing and may be more important than any drunkenness of the victim.
There are much wider arguments about whether we can now trust police evidence on either personal veracity or investigative competence and quality of supervision (where was this here, if at all?). We are back into the cycle of the need for a public enquiry into police accountability, a cycle maintained (according to Graham Smith) because government always gives in to police pressures not to let civilians make decisions on what gets investigated. Joseph Wambaugh and I have both believed for a long time that decent cops would do better from this as well as the public. If Andrews was doing the right thing (not what it looks like to us on the limited disclosure), his ACC and other senior establishment are worse than Gadget and most of the rest of us believe, swaying like grass in the political and PR wind. What is an ordinary, decent cop to think when his or her fate is a matter of statistical roulette with judges like chalk and cheese? I could give advice from Socrates, who lived low and humble, thinking the only thing that mattered in any action was to do the right thing. He died poor, executed by hemlock and did nothing about slavery. Ethics ain’t easy. What happens is some bright scuzz-brief insists on using this case, and suggests the munter of his client got less than she would have got in police custody, she only fell off the doorway when he was trying to help her in her drunken state and so on? Roy Bean’s rota may be full soon!